The 10 Essential Skills Business Continuity Managers Need to Succeed

1. Communication

Speaking and writing skills are essential for a business continuity manager who prepares various documents: policies, BCDR plans, procedures, standards, and reports. Communication skills are critical to developing and delivering educational programs to BCDR teams. Business continuity managers should implement programs such as seminars, webinars, and podcasts. They also plan and promote BCDR awareness activities, such as presentations, emails, and bulletins. Communication skills also reinforce the value of a BCDR/resilience program throughout the company, especially to senior management.

2. Collaboration

Collaboration is a critical skill set, and this fact was apparent in the corporate response to the COVID-19 pandemic. More people began working remotely through collaboration systems like Zoom, Slack, and Microsoft Teams. Business continuity managers must effectively plan, lead and follow up on meetings, and generate post-meeting action plans. They perform these actions with remote employees and those collocated with them.

3. Business Analysis

Business analysis skills help managers understand how the company operates, how different elements interact, and how the organization implements strategies. The ability to plan and execute the business impact analysis (BIA) and risk assessment is among the most important skills for business continuity managers. These activities provide valuable insights into how the organization operates and identify internal and external situations that could affect the continued operations of the business.

4. Project management

Because BCDR/resilience programs are major initiatives, strong project management skills are essential to plan, organize and manage these complex projects. Expertise with project management software complements these organizational skills, as does professional accreditation as a project manager.

5. Risk-related prep and reporting

BCDR and resilience activities prepare for risks, threats, and vulnerabilities that could disrupt business operations. A risk assessment is one of the key initial activities in this area, along with a BIA. Knowledge of how to perform risk assessments, obtain risk data — such as actuarial tables and insurance underwriting data — and prepare risk tables and other relevant reports is increasingly essential.

6. Auditing

Auditors focus on management and operational controls. They also examine the procedures ensuring business functions align with recognized process controls, operational metrics, standards, and regulations. Auditing skills are important when examining BCDR and resilience plans, technology applications, performance exercises, BCDR training and awareness programs, and other activities regarding compliance with standards and good practice.

7. Financial analysis

Business continuity managers must understand an organization’s financial implications for emergencies. It is particularly useful when performing a BIA. They must identify the financial impact of specific disruptive events and present that data to senior management. Financial prowess is also helpful when evaluating proposals from vendors for BCDR and resilience.

8. Emergency management

Often a disruptive event may be part of a larger emergency that requires a coordinated response. Emergency management skills are useful for business continuity managers to prepare and carry out incident response plans and other activities for the early stages of a crisis. Well-designed incident response and emergency management plans can mitigate the severity of a disaster far better than if no such plans were available.

9. Sales Skills

Not everyone is a natural salesperson, but the ability to convince senior management of the value and benefits of a BCDR/resilience program is essential for business continuity managers. The key way to build this skill is to understand what must be done for BCDR/resilience and then develop and deliver the message in a compelling and professional manner. You can learn how to handle objections and convince management of the benefits of the proposed program. When a bit of salesmanship is coupled with good communication and presentation skills, business continuity managers can make an effective case for their recommendations.

10. Be Tenacious

Another important skill is the ability to keep moving forward with a BCDR program, despite pushback from senior management and other senior leadership. BCDR team leaders must be prepared to accept defeat, regroup and revise the message, update the financials and justification for expenditures and effort, and lobby decision-makers again.

And always give more than asked for

11. Empathy

Disasters affect people as much as they do business and operational events. The ability to put oneself in the place of others and understand their concerns and issues is an increasingly important skill for BCDR and resilience professionals. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted empathy in corporate settings. Many organizations chose to allow employees to work from home for an extended period rather than require them to return to the office. This setup enabled employees to make their own decisions regarding personal issues, such as childcare and potential exposure.